The priest pulled out his finger from the stripper’s ear lobe in shock.
“Im sorry,” he stammered, “I didn't think you were going to make a noise like that…”
She looked up at him, the dirty neon of the club splashed across her face. She half smiled, trying to mix a coy face with that of a sultry one.
“Honey, whatever you’re into… I’ll make it good for you.”
Taking his hand, she started to guide it towards her ear once more but the priest hastily pulled free. There was an awkward pause.
“I... I shouldn't be doing this”, he said shifting in his seat uncomfortably.
Sensing that this was probably a lost cause, the stripper gently rolled her eyes, stood up and sashayed off to another area of the club. He could have sworn he heard her mutter ‘weirdo’ under her breath but was more preoccupied with nervously glancing around, seeing if anyone was watching. It suddenly occurred to him he was still wearing his dog collar, so he quickly pulled it off and stuffed it his pocket.
Certain events had recently made him start to question his faith; but then there was that strange dream that he had last night, and even in these sober waking hours that one powerful image still burned in his mind.
A glowing big red circle…
Surely it was a sign. It had to have meant something. Why else would that image remain in his consciousness so resolutely? Why could he not push it out of his thoughts no matter how hard he tried?
His whole existence, the path he had chosen in life, was based on faith - belief in signs, belief in meaning within everything around him. God moves in mysterious ways - he had preached it so often and yet now he felt it was really happening to him, testing him and not just something you might say to excuse the unexplainable.
Exiting the club, the priest turned momentarily to look up at the strip club’s neon sign. The outline of the girl’s torso lay etched against the concrete hue of the building; the circle that made up her red lips glowed brightly. A slight flicker of the lights gave the appearance that the sign was winking at him trying to get his attention and so he turned away, feeling uneasy.
Why was he there? Did he really believe that glowing red circle of her lips was a sign for him? The doorway he had just stepped out of, curved and painted red, shaped like a rising sun, had invited him in. That girl in there, she had stretched earlobes with red flesh tunnel piercing. She was speaking to him but he couldn't hear what she was saying. That piercing… The hole was pretty big enough to…
Before he knew it he was reaching forward, finger outstretched.
How do you explain the signs he’s been seeing? It has to be leading him somewhere. It couldn't be just a coincidence could it? Something more? His eyes drifted up toward the lamppost next to him. It had a stop sign sitting on top of it. The priest glanced up the road and shivered. Further up was a tube station sign. Across the road from that was a taxi rank, a row of red brake lamps glaring at him. A coffee shop sign with an enlarged ‘O’. A poppy wreath at the foot of a monument in the park.
His heart sank.
Over the river, The London Eye glowed red, casting its light across the water.
11th July 2012
11th July 2012